A month after the swearing-in ceremony for the new Irvine City Council, Tuesday (January 10th) was a night to begin delivering on campaign promises as the Council got down to business.
Re-elected Councilmember Larry Agran and newly elected Councilmember Kathleen Treseder did just that during the 8-hour marathon meeting. The meeting included plenty of prodding, cajoling and sweet-talking the other Councilmembers to move forward with new policies addressing old issues.
VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK
After a lengthy discussion, the Council endorsed Agran’s conceptual plan for the long-promised Veterans Memorial Park on a 5-0 vote. The endorsed plan includes an entry plaza next to the control tower of the former air base, with a memorial “Walk of Honor” leading to a Great Memorial Meadow ringed by installations commemorating veterans’ experiences and contributions. The voter-approved Veterans Memorial Park on the 125-acre “ARDA” site will also include a perimeter park filled with thousands of trees; a trail system; and memorial botanical gardens.
After the meeting, Councilmember Agran said: “I’m very happy that we now are beginning to build the long-promised Veterans Memorial Park that truly and appropriately honors the service and sacrifice of America’s veterans … and that it’s happening at the Great Park on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station where so many thousands served from 1942 to 1999.”
The Council heard a presentation from City staff regarding the process required to make the shift from the current at-large election system and to expand the Council to seven members — a Mayor elected at-large by all voters and six Councilmembers elected from separate geographic districts. An amendment to the City Charter will go to a public vote in 2024, and the City ordinance governing elections will have to be amended. But, the biggest effort will go into drawing the district lines. That will entail hiring a demographer and holding a series of public hearings and other outreach efforts to involve all segments of the community to ensure that the districts are fairly drawn and not gerrymandered to favor one faction or interest group.
In spite of fierce opposition from Councilmember Tammy Kim, who has been a longtime opponent of district elections, the Council voted 4-1 (Kim voted NO) to proceed with the transition to district elections — including hiring a demographer and beginning the public process.
At midnight, the Council voted 5-0 in support of Councilmember Treseder’s motion to have City staff draft an ordinance that will require most newly constructed homes and buildings in Irvine to be all-electric, with no new gas hookups. Treseder urged the move as an effective measure to combat greenhouse gas emissions within the City, specifically methane. Methane is the main component of natural gas and is 80 times more efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Methane leakage from gas appliances has been identified as a major contributor to global warming, Treseder pointed out. Capping and then reducing the emissions will help the City meet its ambitious goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.
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